As of today, I have done a physical workout five times a week… every. single. week. for. a. year.
This might be some peoples norm but it was definitely not mine. What originally started as 30 Minute daily novelty workouts during the great circuit breaker that was lockdown 1.0, has continued as a way of life for me. Here’s why, and what I’ve learned along the way.
- Lockdown was a pain in the ass. And I’m sure it will be again. For people who are used to having control of their lives, like me, it was the ultimate slap in the face. But I’ll see you, lockdowns, and I’ll raise you that I’m still the boss of my reaction. This was originally about the fact that I was more or less stuck inside, running a household with a three year old and a 6 week old, giving so much of myself to dependent little ones and realising that I deserved, in fact actually required, thirty-tiny-minutes for my body and my head every single day, no matter how no matter what.
- The Formula was 5 workouts a week; no matter what (30-minute home workouts Monday to Friday). They mostly happened very first thing in the morning, I rolled out of bed and into sneakers, with my four year old watching for entertainment (hot tip, kids love it if you put on an American accent and pretend to run a class like it’s Aerobics OzStyle 1987) I put the new baby on the playmat, or eventually in the high chair for brekky, and opened up YouTube. I just typed in “30 minute bodyweight workouts” to start and ended up getting some dumbbell weights a few months in. I started with Sam Wood’s free 30 minute daily workouts he ran during lockdown, then just searched whoever on YouTube based on what I felt like “low impact” some days or “high intensity” others. “Glutes and abs” some days or “arms and back” others.
- The Flexibility was what allowed that to happen. If I knew I had a commitment coming up that would make it difficult to exercise on the Friday morning for example, I’d get myself in credit by doing an extra on the Sunday before or making up on the Saturday in the same week. Same if I felt sick or something unexpected popped up – the trick was ensuring it all had to be made up in the Sunday to Saturday week timeframe, no excuses. Doing a daily double was an option in extreme circumstances.
- Working out consistently is not about using willpower. I was reading a book last year that explained willpower, by its definition, was a strong determination or energy that allows one to do something difficult. Energy by its nature is something that eventually runs out, so it was saying willpower is not really a feasible, sustainable approach to something in a long term way of life. This flicked a switch for me.
- So if not willpower then what? Rather than applying some “I must I must” approach to regular exercise, I instead focussed on the facts. Fact is that, historically speaking, I always, always feel better in my mind and body after working out. So in deciding whether I’ll roll the mat out today, it became an easier choice every day if asked simply, “do I want to feel better than I do right now?” Yes. So am I working out? Yes.
- I was having coffee with a mentor of mine who was explaining that her approach with raising her uni-aged children was that she gave them quite a lot of freedom and choice, perhaps more so than your average parent would, on the single condition that they maintain a B+ average in school. This meant they could go out as much as they wanted. But here’s the thing that happened, they prioritised their B+ average and the requirements to achieve that and made reasonable choices about going out accordingly. Prioritisation is key, if you have your priorities set (and they are based in fitness and health) you actually face less ‘decisions’ about what else to do or not do (drink the wine, press the snooze) and rather just go with the flow of that over arching priority.
- This prioritisation also allowed for other shifts in my set ways. For example in the past I had a pretty set need to get all made-up and ready before leaving the house, but with my priorities shifted (and lets face it, the new norm of less makeup post-lockdowns) it’s more important for me to get a work-out in and get out of the house than it is to “juj” with lengthy face/hair prep. In fact I’ve found I now wear far less makeup full stop, as my skin seems to breathe and behave better with a daily dose of sweat and blood pumping cardio. Rosy cheeks au naturale.
- It’s true, the hardest part is the decision to get up and do it. Once the decision is made, once the feet hit the mat and the hands pick up a dumbbell, it’s all downhill from there. Not once half-way through a 30 minute workout did I think, hmm I might stop now. Sure it was hard at times and I was counting down the minutes but counting down the minutes to feel good.
- Last but not least… The shift in physical appearance was the outcome, not the goal. I happen to have shifted 10 kilograms in the last 365 days but it’s been the side effect, the nice-to-have, the last dot-point of this post as opposed to what I might normally have held as the motivating outcome. Being driven by the feeling rather than a physical goal is probably the key differentiator in why this is currently working for me.
So who knows if I’ll keep this up for a year ahead, but there’s one thing for certain – it’s been the strongest year of my life, proudly, at 37 as a mum of two kids. There’s something in this self investment deal I tell you.
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